Here's an article that appeared in the December 1950 issue of Strength & Health magazine.
Art is best known by the millions who have watched his fine performance as Angel Lopez in "The Men", a dramatic motion picture which brings to light some of the tragic problems of the paraplegic.
Art is paralyzed from the waist down. As a veteran of World War II he symbolizes the plight of so many thousands of our severely wounded boys in the last war. He has, however, adjusted himself to this new life with a serenity, patience, and wisdom that is seldom seen in the severly disabled. Art faced death many times as an Air Corps pilot in the last war. He considers himself lucky to be alive, and thanks God for the opportunity of sharing the many joys, benefits, and opportunities to be had for the asking in our country, and for the chance to help those who are afflicted physically.
Much of this present outlook can be traced to his early love of competitive athletics. He is a quiet, low spoken, intense person. His love for a contest holds no malice towards his opponent, but merely the joy of achievement.
Art was born in Los Angeles in 1923. His early schooling was taken in East Los Angeles. He was rather small, but tough and wiry, and excelled in all sports. Because of his superior coordination and strenght, Art started gymnastics and weight lifting. At Garfield High School, and later at Los Angeles City College, he won his letter on the gym team. Art excelled on the rings, and could do slow phlanges, rolls, and levers that displayed his great strength.
In 1942, Art was 5 ft. 8 1/2 ins., 150 lbs., hard as a rock, and beautifully built. He joined the Air Corps, and spent his Boot Camp at Buckley Field, Denver, Colorado. After many transfers and much schooling Art graduated in 1944 as a 2nd Lt. Air Force Pilot from Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona.
On one of his routine training flights Art cracked up a P-47 in the middle of a Big Lake. Knocked nearly unconscious, he swam around for two hours before help came. In his half dazed state, he swam away from his rescuers.
The doctors attribute this feat of unusual endurance to his superb condition built through years of heavy resistive exercises.
Later Art piloted B-24's and flew missions in Italy.
He survived many narrow escapes, and finally was sent home with a group of his buddies as passengers on a B-17 headed for South America. Two hundred and fifty miles from Brazil the plane developed engine trouble and crashed into the water. The impact of the forced landing jarred Art so severly that his backbone was fractured near its base. The plane began to sink, and everyone escaped but Art. He found himself strapped to his seat with the water climbing above his knees. To his amazement, he found that he could not move his legs, and had no feeling in them. Art finally managed to undo his safety strap, and with his "Mae West" life belt floated out of the plane escape hatch seconds before the ship disappeared below the waves. Here again, his tough athletic trained body responded to his commands. While in great pain, and with his legs paralyzed, Art managed to keep afloat for several hours before rescue was at hand.
He was flown to Natal Hospital in Brazil, and from there to Florida, then to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, and finally landed in Birmingham General Hospital near his home in Los Angeles.
While Art was overseas he kept in condition with all the facilities available to him. He boxed with the native Italians, did heavy calisthenics, swam, and used punching bags. He always did road work in addition to these active sports.
While in the hospital, Art began intensive work on his upper body. He lifted barbells, dumbells, and climbed ropes. His stength became tremendous. He has a grip of iron, and his arms and shoulders are as impressive as the most advanced barbell star's. This great strength has made him independent, and he is self-sufficient.
About a year ago Art joined the cast of "Fun on Wheels," a musical variety show which has played many theaters and auditoriums. This amazing show is composed entirely of paraplegics in their wheel chairs, plus a dozen beautiful girls. Art is billed as "The Great Jurado," and is seen effortlessly climbing a rope hand over hand. He later does a specialty adagio act with a girl partner, and a buddy in another wheel chair. They get a fine hand for their part in this splendid review.
Art has been working out at Physical Services with John Farbotnik, Harold Zinkin, Monte Wolford, Lyle Fox, and myself. He is an inspiration to our veterans in wheel chairs, and has influenced many of them to follow his fine example.
Art is a student at U.C.L.A., but is now at the crossroads between school and show business. He will see what opportunities the future has to offer.
His sterling example of fight and determination against such great odds should set an example to every disabled person, and make the rest of us ashamed if we shirk the opportunity to care properly for our own bodies. Art has experienced the combination of good health, both physical and mental, and knows that they are inseparable.
Art (Manuel's son) passed away in 1963 at the early age of 40. When I spoke to Louie Hernandez, Art's brother in law, to ask about the year in which Art passed away, he did say that Art did live a lot longer than the doctors thought he would.
I remember my mom and dad taking my brother and me to see "The Men" sometime in the early 50's, at a drive-in. Even though cousin Art was 23 years older than myself I remember what a great thrill it was to see someone I knew on the big screen. Art had a very big part in the film opposite Marlon Brando and Jack Webb and it was especially thrilling to see just how good Art was in some of the gymnasium scenes.